J-1 Academic Training

Request Form Signatures from Academic Advisors

BIO understands that many staff, including academic advisors, are currently working remotely and may not be able to sign forms. To accommodate this situation, we will accept the following types of signatures:

  1. Docusign signature.
  2. Official Adobe digital signature with Adobe logo and timestamp (example on page 3).
  3. Hand-drawn signature (not typed) using mouse or touch screen (example).
  4. Email confirmation of academic advisor's approval.
    1. Student should submit the request form to their advisor by email and specifically ask them to include the line "I approve [student name and student ID] for [OPT/reduced course load, etc.]".
    2. Academic advisor should complete the form, but can type their name instead of signing in the signature field. Academic advisor should email the form back to the student with the line "I approve [student name and student ID] for [CPT/OPT/reduced course load, etc.]" in the body of the email. We will accept this language in place of a signature.
    3. Student should forward the academic advisor's email to BIO, making sure to include the completed request form as well as any other required supplementary materials (e.g., employment offer letter and Cal Central enrollment for CPT). IF SUBMITTING REQUEST IN PERSON, student should print out academic advisor's email from step (2) above and attach it to their request. 

J-1 Academic Training (AT)

Academic Training is a type of off-campus work authorization for employment or training experience directly related to a J-1 student's field of study. J-1 Academic training is:

  • is available to J-1 Degree-seeking and Education Abroad Program (EAP) students
  • is a type of off-campus work authorization for employment in a student's field of study (not required to be an "academic" job)
  • is an an integral or critical part of the J-1 student’s U.S. academic program
  • must be authorized by the J-1 student's program sponsor (the institution that issues the DS-2019). Students sponsored by UC Berkeley must request authorization from Berkeley International Office. Students who are sponsored by institutions other than UC Berkeley (such as Fulbright, LASPAU etc.) should check with that sponsor for information on Academic Training eligibility.

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Eligibility

Degree-Seeking & Education Abroad Program (EAP) Students

  • You must have completed at least one semester in J-1 status.
  • AT can be used before (pre-completion) or after the completion of program of study (post-completion).
    • Pre-completion AT can be part-time (maximum of 20 hours per week) during the fall and spring semesters or full-time in the summer.
    • Post-completion AT must be a minimum of 20 hours per week.
    • Full-time Pre-completion AT may be available for graduate students who have advanced to Ph.D candidacy and for whom the work is integral to the completion of their academic degree.
  • Because proof of employment or work is a required part of the applicaiton process, J-1 students must have a job offer in hand BEFORE the completion of study ( and at the time of the AT application.)
  • AT can be used for paid or unpaid internships or work experience directly related to the J-1 program of study. If post-completion AT is unpaid, the student must submit a letter from the employer AND provide proof of financial support in the amount of $2,100/month for living expenses during the training period.
  • AT allows for more than one position at a time, as long as all are related to the J-1 student's field of study. But, you must file a separate AT request ffor EACH and EVERY position. If changing employers while on post-completion AT, there CANNOT be a gap in employment dates. Post-compeltion AT must be continuous.
  • Post-completion AT must begin within 30 days of the program completion date. However, time authorized for Academic Training will begin counting the day after program completion.
  • Special MBA Exchange Program J-1 students are NOT eligible for AT.

Duration of AT

Degree-Seeking Students

  • AT is available for a total of eighteen (18) months or for a period equal to the length of the study program, whichever is shorter. 
  • AT can be extended only for postdoctoral researchers up to a maximum total of thirty-six (36) months. Students may apply for the extension at any time before the expiration of their eighteen (18)-month academic training so long as the AT has a research component is verified by the faculty advisor as part of the AT application form.
  • Total AT may be used pre or post completion. Example: If you qualify for 18 months of AT, and you use 6 months of pre-completion AT, you will only have 12 months remaining after completing your degree. 

Education Exchange Program (EAP) Students

  • One semester (Fall or Spring) students are allowed four (4) months of Academic Training after the semester is completed.
  • Two semester students (Fall and Spring) are eligible for a total of nine (9) months of Academic Training & may begin AT after completing one semester.
  • Students who begin in the spring term and will continue to the Fall term may also use Academic Training to work off-campus during the summer between semesters or after completing the second (Fall) semester, not to exceed a total of nine (9) months.
  • Total AT may be used pre or post completion. Example: If you qualify for 9 months of AT, and you use 2 months of pre-completion AT, you will only have 6 months remaining after completing your EAP program. 

Application Deadline

Submit the application for Academic Training to Berkeley International Office at least three (3) working days BEFORE your work experience begins, BEFORE completion of the academic program, and BEFORE the DS-2019 expires. Your degree completion date may or may not be the same as the end date on your DS-2019. The standard processing for all student requests, including AT, is 3 business days (excluding weekends and holidays). Please keep this in mind as you plan your employment start date. Expedites are not available and we are unable to back-date AT start dates. DO NOT begin any employment until AT has been approved and authorized on your DS-2019. Beginning or continuing employment without authorization is a serious violation of J-1 status. Incomplete applications may cause AT to be denied or delayed.

"Completion" is defined as:

  • Undergraduates - the last day of final exams of the semester you are graduating

  • Graduates - the day degree requirements are fulfilled such as passing final exams or filing a dissertation

  • EAP Reciprocity - the last day of final exams of your last semester in the program.

Instructions for Requesting Academic Training

  1. Obtain Health Insurance that meets U.S. State Department J-1 requirements for yourself and ALL J-2 dependents for the duration of the J-1 program, including Academic Training. Failure to maintain sufficient health insurance will result in termination of the J-1/J-2 record.
  2. Work with your academic adviser (college, department or faculty adviser) and complete the Academic Training Request Form. EAP Students should also check with their home institution to confirm that post-completion AT will not impact their home country program of study.
  3. Submit Academic Training Request Form and the following attachments to Berkeley International Office:
    • For post-completion AT only: $100 Post-Completion Services Fee proof of payment: Attach credit/debit receipt, check or money order. The Post-Completion Services Fee covers advising and support services provided during and up to the first 18-month period (or any part thereof) of AT. Extensions past 18 months will incur an additional fee.
        • Credit/Debit Card:

          • PhD students applying for an extension of AT after their UC Berkeley degree has been conferred should click here and scroll down to "Post-Completion Fee Payment" at the bottom of the page to access our secure payment portal.

          • All other students: Click here to make your payment online via our secure portal 

          • You must print your receipt/proof of payment and attach it to your AT DS-2019 Request form.

        • Check or Money Order: Make check or money order payable to order of "UC Regents." Attach a deposit slip or small piece of paper with your Student ID Number to the check/money order. Do not write your Student ID Number directly on to the check/ money order. Attach the check/money order to your Academic Training request.

    • Provide a Verification Letter from your employer. Your employer must print and complete the Academic Training Template Letter (page 3 of the AT request form) on their company letterhead. We will only accept a properly completed template letter. AT applications without the Template Letter will be DENIED. All employment information on the letter (employer name, address, employment start and end dates, supervisor information) on the letter MUST match the the information on the AT request form.
    • Proof of Funding: Post-completion AT applicants must show Financial documents showing at least $2100/month*. If your offer letter already shows this, then you do not need to submit additional funding documents. If applicable, include additional funding proof for dependents at $850/month for spouse and $750/month per child for the duration of your AT.
  4. Pick up your new DS-2019 Academic Training authorization and BIO Academic Training Verification Letter from Berkeley International Office in 3 business days. The letter specifies information about your Academic Training authorization.

A copy of the DS-2019 with the AT annotation and the BIO Academic Training Verification Letter should be given to the employer, and can also be used to apply for a Social Security Number. For information on the Social Security Number application, see How to Apply for a Social Security Number.

*Funding must cover the entire period from your current DS-2019 end date until the end of your Academic Training.

Sample AT forms

Employment Rules While on AT

Reporting Requirements

The following information must be reported to Berkeley International Office during the post-completion Academic Training period of authorization within 10 days of any changes:

  • Your residential address
  • Your phone and email address
  • If ending Academic Training early - Date of exiting the U.S. (You must provide date of exit if you decide to exit the U.S and complete your AT status prior to the end date of your AT)
  • If your visa status changes while on Academic Training
  • You must submit a Final Evaluation for all employers at the end of your AT period

Pre-completion AT
Report address, email, and phone updates via Cal Central. Submit your final evaluation online through our Student SEVIS Update (SSU) form. 

Post-Completion BIO SSU Hub Reporting System
While on AT, you are required to keep your SEVIS record up-to-date and report certain information to maintain your F-1 status (see more details below). You will use BIO's online Student SEVIS Update (SSU) Hub to update your address and personal information, report early completion or changing your visa status, and to submit a Final Evaluation at the end of your AT. The information you enter into the SSU Hub will be stored and maintained by Berkeley International Office and is used only for reporting to SEVIS, as mandated by federal regulations.

Creating an SSU Hub Account
When accessing the SSU Hub for the first time, you'll need to "Create an account" using your Student ID Number, SEVIS ID Number (the N000... on the top of your DS-2019), and an email that you will continue to have access to. If using a Berkeley email, please make sure that you won't lose access to it (you can "claim" it here). You will be able to create your own password. Please retain this for future logins.

For future logins, you'll need your Student ID number, SEVIS ID number, and the password you created. If you need to re-set your password, you can do so yourself (the password re-set information will be sent to the email address that you originally used to sign-up).

If you have trouble accessing SSU, please email seviscoordinator@berkeley.edu

Unemployment

Unemployment for students with post-completion Academic Training authorization is not allowed. If termination of employment is necessary, consult with an Adviser at Berkeley International Office (before the employment termination date) to determine the best way to maintain legal status in the U.S.

In general, students are allowed a 30-day grace period from the last date of employment or the end of the AT authorization period (whichever comes first), to depart the U.S..

Changing Employers or Making Changes to an Existing Employer

Changing Employers
ALL employers require AT authorization. If your current employment is terminated and you are considering another work experience in the U.S., the new job must meet ALL AT eleigiblity requirements. You must submit a new and fully completed AT request to Berkeley International Office before beginning work at the new job. Application instructions are exactly the same as when the you originally applied for the initial Academic Training work authorization. Note: There cannot be a gap in post-compleiton AT employment dates. Employment must be continuous. Example: if you end with employer A on Jan. 1, 2020, your start date with Employer B must either be before that date or the very next day Jan. 2, 2020.

Maintain Health Insurance

 J-1 students and accompanying J-2 dependents must maintain specific health insurance coverage for the entirety of the stay in the U.S. in J status, inlcuding while on Academic Training, as required by the U.S. Department of State. Click J-1 Student Health Insurance Requirements to see complete information on the required level of health insurance. Failure to maintain health insurance is a serious violation of J status.

Travel and Re-Entry While on AT

Currently Berkeley International Office recommends minimizing international travel due to the changing nature of U.S. immigration policy. See more information on the Travel & Re-Entry page.

For important information regarding current U.S. immigration policy, Executive Orders, and travel advisories please see BIO's Immigration Policy Updates & FAQ webpage.

Travel Documents Needed

Readmission to the U.S. as a J-1 student on Academic Training is at the discretion of the Customs and Border Patrol officer at the U.S. port of entry.  In general, a J-1 student on Academic Training who travels outside the U.S. temporarily (i.e., less than 5 months) can be readmitted to resume employment for the remainder of the period authorized on his or her work permit issued by the Berkeley International Office, provided the student presents the following:

  • A valid passport with valid J-1 visa stamp the day of entry 
  • Form DS-2019, endorsed by Berkeley International Office within the preceding 12 months (10 months recommended)
  • Proof of employment (or employment offer), usually in the form of a letter from your employer on official letterhead business stationery. 

Getting a J-1 Visa

If you are traveling abroad and the J-1 visa in your passport has expired, you must obtain a new one before re-entering the U.S.  Students who need to apply for a new visa should consult Berkeley International Office prior to travel to discuss the visa application process and possible risks. General information may be found on our Applying for a Visa page.

Traveling before beginning a new program of study

If you are planning to transfer to a new school or program after completing your Academic Training (see below), you must obtain a visa with the name of your new school noted on it before entering or re-entering the U.S. even if your J-1 visa has not yet expired. You will need the DS-2019 from your new school in order to apply for the new visa. Note that transfer is complex for J-1s and is not common.

Beginning a New Program of Study While on AT

J-1 students may begin a full-time program of study while on Academic Training (AT). However, students who wish to stop working or need to extend/continue their student status in order to finish a new program should consider the following steps before the end date of their Academic Training according to their situation.

Returning to UC Berkeley

Students who wish to return to the school that recommended their AT will need to request a new DS-2019 for a "change of level." Please contact Berkeley International Office to speak with an International Student Advisor for information about this process. Changes of level for J-1s are only available for higher level degrees. EAP students may not change level within the United States.

Attending a New School

Students who have been admitted to a new school (different from the school that recommended AT), will need to apply for a transfer of their J-1 status to the new school. This requires the "release" of a student's electronic SEVIS record to the new school in order for a new DS-2019 to be issued. For complete instructions, see Transfer from UC Berkeley.

Please Note: The J-1 transfer process requires close coordination between the current and new school. Advisers at both of these schools should be consulted early (before the AT expires) in order for the process to happen smoothly. J-1s may only transfer to complete a program at the same level, or at a higher level. Generally, EAP students do not qualify for transfer. Check with your BIO Adviser if you are considering transfer.

Changing Visa Status

Students who want to change their visa status (to an F-1 student visa or other) should speak with an International Student Adviser at Berkeley International Office. This may require traveling out of the U.S. or a lengthy application process. Students are encouraged to plan well in advance.

Options After AT

After AT is finished, J-1 students have a 30-day period in which to leave the U.S. Any other plans (transfer, change of status, etc) must be arranged before the end of the AT and DS-2019 end date.

Leave U.S. with 30-day grace period

J-1 students must leave the U.S. no more than 30 days after the end of their DS-2019 end date. After departure from the U.S., students may NOT re-enter using their J-1 visa and DS-2019 documents.

Start a New Academic Program

See information above about beginning a new academic program. You must have made arrangements prior to the expiration of your current AT DS-2019.

Changing Status to a Work Visa (H-1B)

The H‑1B status permits temporary employment (up to 6 years) in the U.S. for people who have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in the same or a related field as the job offered. The position offered must require professional-level skills and pay at least the minimum salary (called prevailing wage) as defined by the government. The employer must submit a petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for approval of the H-1B position. 

One of the first issues that will come up if you are offered an H-1B position is whether or not you are subject to the Two Year Home Country Physcial Presence Requirement. If you are subject to this rule, you must return to your country of last legal residence for two years or obtain a waiver of this requirement before you are eligible for the H-1B.

Not all J-1s are subject to this 2-year requirement. If you are, applying for a waiver is a lengthy process and the timing is tricky. If you have a question about whether you are subject, or how and when to apply for a waiver, attend one of our workshops on the subject and then make an appointment to speak with an advisor at Berkeley International Office if you have further questions.

212e Two Year Home Country Requirement

Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to a two-year home country physical presence requirement. J-1 visitors "subject" to this rule must return to their country of last legal residence for two years or obtain a waiver of this requirement before they are eligible for the H (temporary employment), L (intracompany transfer), K (fiance) or Permanent Residence (Green Card) categories. Click Two-Year Physical Presence Requirement to see more information.